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Full text of ""I will convert sinners" : Our Lady's apparitions at Beauraing, 1932-1933"

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'I WILL CONVERT 
SINNERS" 



Our Lady's Apparitions at 
Beauraing, 1932-1933 



By 

DON SHARKEY 



SECOND PRINTING 



DIVINE WORD MISSIONARY PUBLICATIONS 
TECH NY, ILLINOIS 



FOREWORD 

"It was through Mary that the salva- 
tion of the world was begun and it is 
through Mary that it must be consum- 
mated. Mary hardly appeared at all in the 
first coming of Jesus Christ, but in the 
second coming. . . . Mary has to be made 
known and revealed by the Holy Ghost, 
in order that through Her, Jesus Christ 
may be known, loved and served/' 

St. Louis Marie de Montfort, ("True 
Devotion") 

"Our Lady is pleading with us to help 
her save the world from the terrible results 
of its own sins. The very least we can do 
is to read her message. After that, we 
must act upon it." 

Don Sharkey, in "The Woman Shall 
Conquer." 



Nihil Obstat. Michael Noonan, S.M., S.T.D., Diocesan Censor 
Imprimatur. Richard J. Cushing, Archbishop of Boston 

March 12, 1955 



2 



"I WILL CONVERT SINNERS" 

THE STORY OF OUR LADY'S APPARITIONS 
AT BEAURAING, 1932-1933 

Almost every American Catholic has 
heard the story of Our Lady's appear- 
ance at Lourdes in 1858. 

Almost every American Catholic has 
also heard the story of her apparitions at 
Fatima in 1917. 

Less well known, on this side of the 
Atlantic, is the story of her appearances at 
Beauraing (Bo rang), Belgium, in 1932 
and 1933. 

Beauraing deserves to be more widely 
known in the United States. The words 
which Our Lady spoke at Beauraing are 
meant for all the world, not just for the 
five children to whom she spoke, and not 
just for the people of Europe. 

Beauraing is a town of about 2,000 
people in the Walloon, or French speak- 
ing, part of Belgium. It is twelve miles 
from the city of Dinant and five miles 
from the French border. 

At one time the inhabitants of the area 
had been staunch Catholics, but by 1932 
many of them had drifted away from the 
Church. Some were merely indifferent 
toward the Catholic faith; others were 
hostile to it. The Socialists, who made no 
secret of their opposition to the Church, 
carried the district in most elections. 



3 



THE EVENTS 



First Apparition 

Gilberte Voisin, a 13 -year old girl of 
Beauraing, attended a school taught by the 
Sisters of the Christian Doctrine. Her fa- 
ther, an official at the local railway sta- 
tion, allowed her to attend this school 
despite the fact that neither he nor his 
wife went to church. Gilberte, a very 
religious girl, had long been praying that 
her parents would return to the Church. 

On the evening of November 29, 1932, 
Fernande and Albert Voisin started to- 
ward the school to walk home with their 
sister. Fernando was 15, and her brother, 
Albert, was 1 1 . 

They were joined by Andree Degeimbre, 
14, and her sister, Gilberte, 9y>. We see, 
then, that there are two Gilbertes involved 
in this story. It will simplify matters if 
we call them Gilberte V. and Gilberte D. 
Albert was the only boy among the five. 

The two older children walked arm in 
arm. Albert and Gilberte D. amused 
themselves by ringing the doorbells of the 
houses they passed. 

After a short walk, they came to the 
convent where the school was located. 
Just past the convent the street was crossed 
by a railroad viaduct. The railroad em- 
bankment ran behind the convent and 
grounds. The convent was on the right 
hand side of the street as the children faced 
the railroad embankment. The convent 
and grounds were bordered by a fence. 
Just inside the fence was a garden. In the 
garden was a Kourdes grotto which helped 



4 



hide the unsightly railroad embankment. 
The large house which contained the con- 
vent and the school stood in front of the 
embankment. 

The children went to the front door of 
the house and rang the bell. They waited 
for Gilberte V. to come out. 

"Look!" Albert exclaimed suddenly. 
"The Blessed Virgin walking on that 
bridge!" 

The other children turned and beheld 
'the figure of a Lady, dressed in a long 
robe of pure white." She appeared to be 
walking, or gliding, on the viaduct. Gil- 
berte V. came out. She wondered what 
the others were looking at so intently. 
Then she, too, saw the vision. 

The children ran home to tell what they 
had seen. Nobody believed the story. In the 
face of universal skepticism the children 
stuck to their story and would not be 
swayed by any outside influence. Their 
minds were preoccupied with one thought: 
Would they see the Lady again ?" And 
there was no more ringing of doorbells. 

More Trouble 

The next night the four children again 
walked to the school to meet Gilberte V. 
Once more al! five of them beheld the 
figure in white walking back and forth 
on the railroad embankment. 

The children ran into Madame Deg- 
eimbre's house shouting: "We've seen her! 
It is the Blessed Virgin, and she is much 
more beautiful than any of her statues!" 

Madame Degeimbre was furious. She 
told her children that they must not go to 
the convent again. c 



The whole town was talking about the 
apparitions. Madame Degeimbre, who was 
a widow, decided that the matter must 
be settled once and for all. She would 
expose the people who were tricking her 
children. On December 1, armed with a 
big stick, she accompanied the four chil- 
dren to the convent. 

Scarcely had they reached the garden 
when the children came face to face with 
the Lady. She was near the Lourdes grot- 
to this time. She was dressed entirely in 
white and there were golden rays like a 
diadem around her head. She appeared to 
be standing on a cloud. Her feet were not 
visible. She extended her arms slowly and 
then disappeared. 

Madame Degeimbre, who could see 
nothing, sent the four children to get Gil- 
berte V. Then, with her stick, she 
thrashed about in the bushes for the per- 
son who was playing tricks on her chil- 
dren. 

As soon as the children returned from 
the convent, the vision reappeared as glo- 
rious as ever. A few moments later, as 
the children left the convent yard, the 
vision was visible at the gate. This time 
the Lady appeared near the lowest branch 
of a hawthorn tree, just inside the gar- 
den fence. This was where she appeared 
for all the remaining apparitions. Gilberte 
D., the youngest of the five children was 
overcome with emotion. She had to be 
taken home. Gilberte V. stayed with her. 
The other three children returned to the 



6 



convent, and they beheld the vision for 
the fourth time that evening. 

Madame Degeimbre was so struck by 
the effect of the apparition on the children 
that she began to waver in her doubt, but 
it was not until before the last apparition 
that she completely believed her children. 
Monsieur Voisin searched the ground with a 
torch but could find no sign of fraud. The 
parents went to the parish priest, Abbe 
Lambert. He advised them to discuss the 
matter with no one. It was difficult to 
heed this advice, because everyone was ask- 
ing about the apparition. 

The next day Mother Theophile, su- 
perior of the convent, told the children not 
to speak again of the apparitions. She also 
told them to stay out of the convent 
garden. 

That evening the children's mothers 
asked them to go to the convent to meet 
Gilberte V. They could not disobey their 
mothers, so they found themselves in the 
garden once more. Again, they saw the 
vision, this time even more clearly than 
before. 

The Vision 

The Lady looked young, about 1 8 or 
20. Her smile lighted up all her features. 
Her eyes were a beautiful deep blue. She 
wore a long, white, heavily pleated un- 
belted dress. The children said that three 
rays of blue azure draped the dress, ob- 
liquely, from the left shoulder to the hem. 
A rosary hung from her arm. 

Albert asked, "Are you the Immaculate 
Virgin?" 

The Lady smiled and nodded her head. 



7 



"What do you want?" Albert asked. 

Then came the first words uttered by 
Our Lady at Beauraing: "Always be 
good/' 

Our Lady's hands had been joined as 
if in prayer. Before she left she opened 
up her arms as if giving the children a fare- 
well embrace. Then she disappeared. 

Abbe Lambert thought the message 
sounded like something the children had 
thought up. He could not bring himself 
to believe that the Blessed Virgin would 
make such a trite remark as: "Always be 
good/* 

Mother Theophile ordered the gates of 
the garden locked at dusk, and she put two 
fierce dogs inside. 

On Saturday, in obedience to the Su- 
perior, the children stayed away from the 
garden. They were sad because they 
would not see their Lady that day. At 
dusk, when Mother Theophile went out 
to lock the garden gate, she found a crowd 
of 150 standing in the street. 

"You are wasting your time here," 
Mother Theophile said. "There is noth- 
ing to see." 

"What a Socialist we have in this 
woman," said a member of the crowd. 
"She has less belief in this business than 
we have." 

The next day, Mother Theophile re- 
lented. She said that because the children 
had obeyed her they could again come to 
the garden. 

The apparitions continued. For the first 
few apparitions in the garden, the Lady 
was already visible when the children got 



8 



there. Later, she became visible after the 
children had begun to recite the rosary. 
They had formed the habit of saying the 
rosary as soon as they arrived in the gar- 
den. Each time Our Lady appeared, the 
children felt themselves drawn to a kneel- 
ing position, almost as if they were 
thrown to their knees. 

Our Lady asked the children to come 
and pray to her in the evenings. Thus, 
after the day's work, great crowds would 
mingle with the children and witness their 
rapture even if they could not see the 
vision. The crowds grew constantly, and 
people came even from distant parts of the 
country. 

Crowds for December 8 

On several occasions Our Lady told the 
children that she wished them to be pres- 
ent on the Feast of the Immaculate Con- 
ception. Because the day had been speci- 
fically mentioned, the crowd was even 
larger than usual on December 8. About 
15,000 people were there. No doubt 
some of the people were expecting a great 
sign, similar to the Miracle of the Sun at 
Fatima. Nothing of that kind occurred, 
but there was something interesting. 

The children arrived at ten minutes 
past six. They were escorted by their par- 
ents and were accompanied by a number 
of doctors and psychologists. The chil- 
dren beheld the vision as soon as they 
reached the gate. The garden was illu- 
minated brightly, but the vision was much 
more radiant than the electric lights. 



9 



Gilberte D. wept. Dr. Maistriaux asked 
her why. 

"Because she is so beautiful," Gilberte 
answered. 

A few seconds later the doctor asked 
her another question. She failed to an- 
swer. Each child was examined in turn by 
different doctors. All were found to be 
in a state of complete ecstasy. 

Dr. Lurquin, of Houyet, held a lighted 
match under Gilberte V.'s left hand. She 
did not notice it. Other doctors pinched, 
slapped, and pricked the five children. They 
shined flashlights into their eyes. There 
was no reaction. 

All this time, the huge crowd was say- 
ing the Rosary. As soon as they com- 
pleted the last decade, Our Lady disap- 
peared. 

"She is gone!" cried the children. They 
had tears in their eyes. 

Later, Fernande said: "I could see noth- 
ing, neither fence, nor tree, nor crowd: 
only the Holy Virgin who smiled at us." 

The doctors examined Gilberte V.'s 
hand and could not find the slightest trace 
of burning. When they had completed 
their examination she said to her father: 
"Just think of it! They tried to tell me 
that they had pricked and burned me!" 

Remaining Apparitions 

On December 1 7, Our Lady asked for 
a chapel. She said she wished the chapel 
"in order that people might come here on 
pilgrimages." 



10 



Four days later she said: "I am the 
Immaculate Virgin." 

A few days after that she said: "Soon 
I shall appear for the last time." 

On December 29, the Blessed Virgin 
opened her arms in the usual gesture of 
farewell. In doing so, she revealed in the 
region of her chest a Heart of Gold, sur- 
rounded by glittering rays. This was the 
Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God. 
This Heart was displayed in all the re- 
maining apparitions at Beauraing. 

The next evening Our Lady said: 
Pray. Pray very much." 

On January 1, she said to Gilberte V. : 
Pray always." 

On January 2, she said: "Tomorrow 
I will speak to each one of you sepa- 
rately." 

A great crowd was on hand for the 
last appearance, January 3, 1933. Four 
of the children gave a joyous shout as 
the apparition began. Fernande sobbed 
because she could not see the vision. 

As she had promised, Our Lady talked 
to each child separately. 

To Andree, she said: "I am the Mother 
of God, the Queen of Heaven. Pray Al- 
ways. Goodbye." 

To Gilberte V. Our Lady made a great 
promise: "I will convert sinners. Good- 
bye." 

To Albert and to Gilberte D. she sim- 
ply said: "Goodbye." 

When the vision was over, Fernande, 
who was grief stricken at not seeing her 
Lady, remained kneeling. Suddenly, she 
heard a crashing noise, and she saw a 

l 1 



great ball of fire on the tree. Then she 
saw the Blessed Virgin. 

"Do you love my Son?" Our Lady 
asked. 

"Yes." 

"Do you love me?" 
"Yes." 

"Then, sacrifice yourself for me." 

She extended her arms in the usual fare- 
well gesture. she did so, she shone 
more brightly than ever. She showed Fer- 
nande her Heart. 

Then, she said: "Goodbye." 

Fernande wept because she was sure 
that she would never again in this world 
see the beautiful vision of Our Lady. 

Afterward, the three youngest children 
said that Our Lady had told each of 
them a personal message which they might 
not tell to anyone, not even to each other. 

REACTIONS — CURES 

The story of the apparitions caused a 
sensation all over Europe. Some authori- 
ties said the children were frauds. Others 
said they were victims of hallucinations. 
In 1934 and 1935, a number of books 
and magazine articles were written for the 
purpose of "exposing" Beauraing. Through 
all this, the great majority of the people 
and the clergy believed the story of the 
children. Many pilgrimages were made to 
the site of apparitions. 

Gradually, doubt and skepticism disap- 
peared as the facts of the story became 



12 



known and as the results were observed. 

The children remained in Beauraing 
and led lives as close to normal as was 
possible under the circumstances. They 
visited the hawthorn tree each day to say 
the Rosary. Often they were besieged by 
pilgrims, by curiosity seekers, and by those 
who had come to scoff. They bore such 
ordeals with amazing patience. 

After the Bishop set up an Episcopal 
Commission to investigate the events, the 
children underwent long and severe ex- 
aminations. They once had to appear be- 
fore a "tribunal" of 90 doctors. In the 
course of the investigation, the children 
never varied their stories and they never 
contradicted each other when interviewed 
separately. 

Pilgrims came from the very beginning, 
even in the period when it was so fash- 
ionable to "expose" Beauraing. There 
were two million pilgrims the first year. 
On a single Sunday, 25,000 people re- 
ceived Communion in the parish church. 

Miraculous Cures 

Many cures were reported by pilgrims. 
There was Miss Maria Van Laer, for ex- 
ample. 

Miss Van Laer was a patient in a hos- 
pital conducted by the Franciscan Sisters 
of the Holy Family, in Turnhout, Bel- 
gium. She had been a helpless invalid for 
16 of her 33 years. Hers was a tubercular 
condition. Her spinal column was de- 



13 



formed, one of her legs was diseased, and 
she had large tumors which had developed 
into open sores. The doctors said that an 
operation would be fatal, and they held 
out no hope for her recovery. 

Against the wishes of her family and 
the Franciscan Sisters, Miss Van Laer was 
taken to Beauraing on June 24, 1933. 
Her stretcher was taken to the hawthorn 
tree where she remained for some time. 
Then she visited the Degeimbre home. Dur- 
ing a second visit to the hawthorn tree, 
she said she was feeling better. She slept 
in the ambulance on the way home. When 
she reached Turnhout, at midnight, she 
awoke and found herself cured. No pains, 
no tumors, no sores, and no deformities! 
Today, Miss Van Laer is Sister Pudentia 
of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Fam- 
ily and is well able to carry out her ardu- 
ous duties as a nurse. 

Miss Van Laer's cure was one of those 
investigated by the Episcopal Commission 
which the Bishop appointed to investigate 
the events at Beauraing. In 1949, Bishop 
Charue declared the cure to be an authen- 
tic miracle. 

Conversions 

More important than the physical cures 
are the spiritual cures. Among the earliest 
of the converts were the parents of the 
Voisin children; they returned to the sac- 
raments after an absence of many years. 

Here is one of the most famous of the 
conversion stories: 



14 



A young man gave up his faith and 
became a Communist. He was made editor 
of the Belgian Communist newspaper, "Le 
Drapeau Rouge" (The Red Flag). Dur- 
ing the war he was arrested by the Ger- 
mans, and since the Nazis had little use 
for the Communists, his life was in grave 
danger. His mother had never ceased to 
pray that he would come back to the 
Church. After he was arrested, she knelt 
in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother 
and prayed: "I was never able to do much 
with him. I do not ask you, good Mother, 
to see him alive, but please give him the 
grace to die in the Church. I give you my 
son. Do with him as you see fit!" 

In prison, the young man remembered 
the Blessed Virgin and promised to return 
to the faith if he were liberated. He was 
freed, but he did not keep his promise. 
He was imprisoned again and freed again. 
Still he did not return to the faith. 

In September, 1945, the young man 
was haunted by the thought that he 
should visit Beauraing. He tried to banish 
the thought, but he could not do so. He 
gave in and went to Beauraing, although 
he did not have the least bit of faith. He 
stood in the enclosure, facing the haw- 
thorn, unable to pray. Suddenly, he was 
thrown to the ground. "I was trying to 
protect myself from the fall," he said, 
"and I fell, hanging onto the back of the 
last bench. For a long time I saw noth- 
ing but the figure of Our Lady in the 
hawthorn. A complete transformation 
was produced in me. I cried over my past 
life. But I also cried for joy, conscious 



15 



that something new had entered my soul/' 

The following day the former Com- 
munist editor went to confession and re- 
ceived Holy Communion. He now re- 
ceives Communion every day. He is a 
fervent tertiary of St. Dominic, and was 
in one of the first Legion of Mary groups 
in Belgium. 

Many other conversions have been re- 
ported among people from many different 
countries These conversions are called 
"The Great Invisible Treasure of Beau- 
raing." They recall Our Lady's promise: 
"I will convert sinners/' 

THE CHURCH'S ATTITUDE 

In 1 935, the Bishop of Namur, the dio- 
cese in which Beauraing is located, ap- 
pointed an Episcopal Commission to in- 
vestigate the events. The Bishop died, and 
the investigation continued under his suc- 
cessor, Bishop Andre-Marie Charue. 

First Approval 

Bishop Charue received from Rome a 
decree dated December 7, 1942, and ap- 
proved by Pope Pius XII, which granted 
him complete liberty to proceed toward 
canonical recognition. 

On February 2, 1943, the Bishop pub- 
lished a decree which authorized public 
devotions to "Our Lady of Beauraing." 
This was during the dark days when the 
Germans were occupying Belgium, and 
the people took great comfort from the 
development. 

• 

16 



On May 16 of the same year, Bishop 
Charue solemnly inaugurated this devo- 
tion at a great ceremony attended by 
24,000 people. This was a large crowd 
for war days. 

The Bishop blessed a large statue of Our 
Lady of Beauraing on August 22, 1946, 
the Feast of the Immaculate Heart. The 
statue stands under the hawthorn tree, 
where Our Lady had appeared. 

Pilgrimages of Penance 

Pope Pius XII granted a private inter- 
view to the Bishop of Namur on July 18, 
1947. He gave his blessing to the Sanc- 
tuary and the pilgrimages of penance. 
These pilgrimages are held on the second 
and third Sundays of each month, from 
May to November. The pilgrims walk 12 
miles to Beauraing, praying as they go. 

The cornerstone of the chapel was laid 
on the Feast of the Imaculate Heart, 1947, 
and the chapel was consecrated August 
21, 1954. This is the chapel which Our 
Lady requested. It is near the place of 
the apparitions, and with its confessionals, 
gives Our Lady the opportunity to con- 
vert souls. 

The hawthorn tree is surrounded by 
bronze railings which serve as a gigantic 
votive candle stand. Beneath the tree is 
the statue of Our Lady of Beauraing, the 
Virgin with a Golden Heart. An open 
air altar stands on the spot where the 
Lourdes grotto used to be. 

The Pro Maria Committee has bought 
the old feudal castle which stands on a 



17 



hill above the village. The castle is being 
used as a retreat house, and a beautiful 
basilica will be built on the grounds. 

Final Approbation 

On July 2, 1949, the Bishop released 
two important documents relating to 
Beauraing. One was an episcopal decree 
recognizing as authentic miracles two of 
the many cures credited to Our Lady of 
Beauraing. One was the cure of Miss Van 
Laer, about whom we have read. The 
other was the cure of Mrs. Acar who was 
cured of a tumor of the womb on July 
30, 1933. 

The other document of July 2, 1949 
was a letter from the Bishop to the clergy 
of his diocese. The Bishop said: "We are 
able in all serenity and prudence to affirm 
that the Queen of Heaven appeared to 
the children of Beauraing during the win- 
ter of 1932-33 especially to show us in 
her maternal Heart the anxious appeal for 
prayer and the promise of her powerful 
mediation for the conversion of sinners/' 

Development of the Cult 

The story of Beauraing spread rapidly 
throughout Belgium and then through- 
out other parts of northern Europe. Pil- 
grimages of penance are made twice a 
month. Other regular pilgrimages come 
from the Netherlands, France, and Ger- 
many. The total number of pilgrims each 
year is approximately 1,000,000. 

Very slowly, the story of Beauraing is 
also becoming known throughout the rest 

18 



of the free world. Since 1950, the story 
has been told in numerous Catholic maga- 
zines and newspapers in the United States, 
Canada, India, and other places. The first 
official pilgrimage from the United States 
arrived at Beauraing in September, 1953. 

An organization has been started to 
spread the Message of Our Lady of Beau- 
raing in the United States: the Pro Maria 
Committee, Rev. Joseph Debergh, OMI, 
Director, 725 Merrimack St., Lowell, 
Massachusetts. The first public shrine to 
Our Lady of Beauraing in the U. S. was 
dedicated at Flint, Michigan. June 9, 1955. 

* * * 

What of the Five Children of Beauraing? 

All five are married and are living quiet- 
ly with their families. Some authorities 
believe that in the five "children" Our 
Lady wishes to give us models of family 
life and that she also wishes to emphasize 
the role of the lay people in carrying out 
her message. 

Andree D. and Gilberte V. both live in 
Beauraing. One or both can be seen lead- 
ing the Rosary every night at the shrine. 
Andree has three children. Gilberte has 
two. Gilberte's husband, a state police- 
man, was killed in an accident in April, 
1953. He was a daily communicant. 

Gilberte D. lives in Brussels. She has 
two children. Fernande V. lives in Namur 
and has five children. 

Albert has two children. He lives in 
the Belgian Congo where he is helping to 
train native teachers. 



19 



All five have great devotion to the 
Blessed Mother, and they are bringing up 
their children to have devotion to her 
also. All five shun the limelight. They 
are not important, they say. They were 
merely the instruments through which 
Our Lady gave her message to the world. 

Why did Our Lady appear at Beau- 
rain g? 

The broad answer to that question is 
simple: She appeared at Beauraing for the 
same reason that she appeared at Lourdes, 
at Fatima, and many other places: to save 
souls. She wishes to help us save our 
souls, and she wishes to enlist our help in 
saving the souls of others. 

Saints and mystics and theologians are 
agreed on this: the shortest, surest way to 
God is through Mary. That is because of 
the unique position she occupies as Mother 
of God, Mother of all mankind, Queen of 
Heaven, and Mediatrix of all Graces. 

The important part that Mary plays 
in our salvation is not well enough under- 
stood. Many Catholics look upon devo- 
tion to Our Lady as something that has 
been added to Christian life. They look 
upon it as an accessory, a very helpful ac- 
cessory to be sure, but one that we could, 
strictly speaking, do without. 

The truth is that we depend upon Mary 
for our supernatural life just as a child 
depends on his earthly mother for his 
natural life. St. Louis Marie de Mont- 
fort says that "all the predestinate . . . 
are hidden in the womb of the most holy 



20 



Virgin, where they are guarded, nour- 
ished, and made to grow by that good 
Mother until she has brought them forth 
to glory after death." 

At Beauraing Mary reminds us of her 
great power, of her great love for us, and 
of our dependence on her. 

She wears a diadem, a symbol of her 
power. She shows her golden Heart, a 
symbol of her boundless mother-love. 

She says: "I am the Immaculate Virgin 
. . . I am the Mother of God, the Queen 
of the Heavens. I will convert sinners." 

What a tremendous meaning is packed 
into those few words. 

And how important to our salvation! 

Lourdes, Fatima and Beauraing. 

They are connected like three links in 
a chain, or like three chapters in a book. 

At each place Our Lady asked for a 
chapel. At Beauraing she specifically 
asked for pilgrimages. These shrines are 
visited by millions of pilgrims each year. 
The number of spiritual cures at the three 
shrines cannot be estimated. The amount 
of religious fervor that is generated cannot 
be computed in statistics. The shrines are 
having a profound effect upon Europe and 
upon the world. 

Bishop Theas of Lourdes says that the 
apparitions at Lourdes and those at Beau- 
raing should be studied together. He 
points out that purity was emphasized at 
Lourdes and that the Heart of Gold at 
Beauraing symbolizes love. "Purity and 



21 



love. That is what explains the Heart of 
the Blessed Virgin/ ' 

It is also true that the apparitions at 
Fatima and those at Beauraing should be 
studied together. The similarities between 
the two series of appearances are striking. 
In many ways, the Message of Beauraing 
is a repetition of the Message of Fatima. 
In other ways, the Message of Beauraing 
is an extension of the Message of Fatima. 

What specific requests does Our Lady 
make at Beauraing? 

They are the same requests she has 
made many times in the last century: 1) 
Prayer; 2) Sacrifice; 3) Devotion to her 
Immaculate Heart. Through these prac- 
tices we can help to save our own souls, 
and we can help Mary save the souls of 
others. 

PRAYER: At both Lourdes and Fati- 
ma Our Lady said "Pray for sinners." 
At Beauraing she said: "Pray . . . Pray a 
great deal . . . Pray always." 

The Rosary is a powerful form of 
prayer and one that Our Lady loves. She 
emphasized this devotion at Lourdes by 
allowing the rosary to slip through her 
fingers while Bernadette said the prayers. 

At Fatima she said: "Say the Rosary 
every day/' When asked who she was, 
she said: "I am the Lady of the Rosary." 

At Beauraing Our Lady did not men- 
tion the Rosary but she wore one, and she 
usually appeared while the children were 
saying the Rosary. It is evident that she 
wishes to stress the Rosary and that she 
wishes to encourage its recitation. 



2 2 



SACRIFICE: Under "sacrifice" are in- 
cluded penance and reparation. We make 
sacrifices in order to offer penance for our 
own sins and reparation for the sins of 
others. Our Lady has repeatedly asked 
for sacrifice, for penance, and for repara- 
tion. 

During one of the apparitions at 
Lourdes, Bernadette turned toward the 
crowd and repeated Our Lady's request 
for "Penitence! Penitence!" 

At Fatima Our Lady repeatedly asked 
for sacrifices. 

The last words of Our Lady at Beau- 
raing were: "Do you love my Son? Do 
you love me? Then sacrifice yourself for 
me. 

DEVOTION TO THE IMMACU- 
LATE HEART: At Fatima Our Lady 
said: "God wishes to establish in the 
world devotion to my Immaculate Heart." 
She referred to her Immaculate Heart 
again and again. She asked that Russia 
be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. 
She asked for the devotion of the Five 
First Saturdays in reparation to her Im- 
maculate Heart. She said that some day 
her Immaculate Heart would triumph, 
that Russia would be converted and that 
a period of peace would be given to the 
world. 

At Beauraing it seemed that Our Lady 
wished to remind the world once more 
of the importance of devotion to the Im- 
maculate Heart. She did by showing her 
Immaculate Heart as a Heart of Gold. 



23 



The Feast of the Immaculate Heart, 
August 22, is the day of the biggest cere- 
monies at Beauraing. 

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of 
Beauraing is Mary's promise: "I will con- 
vert sinners/* 

She has mentioned sin in almost all her 
apparitions of the past century. At La 
Salette in 1846, she wept over the sins of 
the world and said she could no longer 
keep her Son from punishing the world. 
At Lourdes, she sometimes looked sad be- 
cause of sin. At Fatima she said: "Many 
souls go to hell because they have no one 
to pray and make sacrifices for them." 
She also forecast dire calamities that would 
overtake the world if people did not re- 
form. 

At Beauraing Mary did not look sad, 
and she did not foretell calamities. At 
Beauraing she was the merciful Mother. 
She simply made the promise: "I will 
convert sinners." There were no condi- 
tions to this. (Although we know she 
will be able to convert more sinners if 
she has our prayers and sacrifices.) 

"I will convert sinners." 

In a world which seems crushed under 
the burden of its own sins what promise 
could be more consoling? 

Our Lady of Beauraing, Pray for us! 

PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF 
BEAURAING 

Our Lady of Beauraing, Immaculate 
Virgin, ever victorious in all thy battles 



24 



for the kingdom of God, we beseech thee, 
convert sinners, as thou hast promised. 

Exercise in their behalf the power of 
thy Immaculate Heart! Bring back to the 
love of God all souls who, deprived of 
sanctifying grace, stand in danger of eter- 
nal perdition. 

O Heavenly Mother, cast thine eyes of 
mercy on thy poor children, and be our 
Help in all tribulations! Be thou the 
Health of the sick and Comforter of the 
afflicted. 

Queen of Heaven, crowned with eternal 
glory, our love and our gratitude pro- 
claim thee also Queen of our hearts and 
Sovereign of the world. We shall work 
for the extension of thy kingdom in our- 
selves, by sacrifice and imitation of thy 
virtues; and around us by frequent prayers 
and good works. 

Mayest thou reign over the whole world 
and spread everywhere the kingdom of thy 
Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Our Father .... Hail Mary .... Glory be to 
the Father 

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us 
Our Lady of Beauraing, convert sinners 
Queen of the Golden Heart, help the sick. 



25 



MARIAN UNION OF BEAURAING 



(Association of Prayers) 

During Her many apparitions at Beauraing in 
1932-33, the Blessed Virgin instantly invited us 
to prayer: "Pray, Pray very much, Pray Always." 

To answer Her appeal, an Association of 
Prayers : 'Our Lady of Beauraing" was founded 
immediately. Following the recognition of the de- 
votion, February 2, 1943, this Association re- 
doubled in fervor and currently numbers thousands 
of adherents scattered throughout the world and 
united, through this Association, to the prayers 
which are said daily, and most particularly at 
night, at the foot of the Hawthorn. 

OBLIGATIONS 

The daily spiritual obligations of the Associates 
have been reduced to a minimum and consist of 
three degrees: 

a) either 3 Hail Marys, with the invocation: 

"Our Lady of Beauraing, convert sin- 
ners — You have promised us." (1st 
degree) . 

b) or 1 decade of the Rosary, followed by 

the same invocation. (2nd degree). 

c) or the 3 Angelus, followed by the same 

invocation. (3rd degree). 

All Associates are invited to sanctify the first 
Saturday of each month by assisting at Mass, re- 
ceiving Holy Communion, and reciting the Rosary 
for the conversion of sinners. 

The sick and invalids are encouraged to offer 
their daily sufferings for the extension of the reign 
of the Blessed Virgin in the world and for the 
conversion of sinners. 

The habitual intentions of the Associates are the 
following: 

a) The conversion of sinners. 

b) All the intentions recommended at Beau- 
raing. 



26 



SPIRITUAL BENEFITS: 

1 . The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Bene- 
diction of the Blessed Sacrament celebrated 
at the Shrine the first Saturday of each 
month will be offered for the conversion of 
sinners and for the intentions of the pro- 
moters and Associates of the Marian Union. 

2. Every day, the priests at Beauraing will 
have, at Mass, a special memento for the 
spiritual intentions of the Associates of the 
Marian Union. 

3. The members may signify their particular 
intentions to the Pro Maria Committee of 
Lowell, Mass. The Committee in turn will 
recommend their intentions to the prayers 
of the pilgrims at the Shrine. 

4. For the deceased: The Associates, of whose 
death the Committee is notified, will be 
recommended in a particular way at the 
Masses said at the Shrine, and will be 
recommended to the prayers of the readers 
of "La Voix de Beauraing," the official pub- 
lication of the Shrine. 

There are no dues for membership in this 
MARIAN UNION OF BEAURAING. For en- 
rollment in this Association of Prayers, as well as 
for folder depicting Our Lady of Beauraing statues, 
medals, holy pictures, post cards, etc., please write 
to: Miss Doris M. Poisson. Secretary, PRO MARIA 
COMMITTEE, 22 Second Avenue. Lowell, Mass. 

Rev. Joseph Debergh, OMI 
Director, Pro Maria Committee 
725 Merrimack Street 
Lowell. Massachusetts 



27 



I 

DECREE 

Authorizing the Cult to Our Lady of Beauraing 

By virtue of the decree of the Holy Office, 
dated December 7, 1942, granting Us power to 
express Our judgment freely on the case of Beau- 
raing, in Our capacity of Ordinary thereof and of 
Our own authority; 

By virtue of the notice of the diocesan Commis- 
sion, which, following the first decree of the Holy 
Office, dated May 30th, 1942, has resumed investi- 
gation of the case; 

Whereas no decisive objection was stated against 
the supernatural and divine character of what are 
designated as the apparitions of the Most Blessed 
Virgin to the children of Beauraing; but, on the 
contrary, the conjectures in favor of this super- 
natural and divine character seem very serious and 
the passing of the years has contributed only in 
making these conjectures more impressive; 

Considering the current of sincere and deep devo- 
tion which has drawn the faithful toward Beau- 
raing during the past ten years — and the 
numerous, often outstanding and even marvelous 
conversions, plus the many favors, both spiritual 
and otherwise, all linked to the event of Beau- 
raing — the perfect orthodox character, simul- 
taneously real, from a doctrinal point of view, and 
beneficial, of the Message of Beauraing; 

Having prayed the Holy Ghost and entreated 
the Virgin of Mediation, full of grace, to assist 

Us; 

We have decided and do decide as follows; 

1 . We allow the carrying on, in our diocese, of 
public devotions to Our Lady of Beauraing, 
that is, the intercession of Our Lady under 
that name, emphasizing the meaning of the 
emblems and words associated with the vi- 
sions to the children of Beauraing and the 
organization of religious ceremonies near the 
hawthorn of the Apparitions. 

It remains, however, forbidden to publish 
articles relating to the incident of Beauraing, 



28 



to propagate pictures, tableaux, statues, 
medals, etc. of Our Lady of Beauraing. 
without obtaining Our authorization. 

2. Anxious to comply with the customary ex- 
treme cautiousness of the Church in such 
matters, We reserve Our definite judgment on 
the facts of Beauraing and on their character. 

3. These decisions are valuable only regarding 
what we customarily call the apparitions to 
the children of Beauraing. 

ANDRE-MARIE 
Bishop of Namur 
Given at Namur, February 19, 1943 

II 

DECREE 

On the Subject of the Cures of Miss Van Laer 

and Mrs. Acar 

Andre-Marie Charue, bv the Grace of God and 
the Holy Apostolic See, Bishop of Namur 

By virtue of the power conferred on Us by the 
decree of the Holy Office, on December 7, 1942, 
according Us the faculty of bringing Our judg- 
ment to bear on the case of Beauraing, in Our ca- 
pacity as Ordinary thereof and of Our own au- 
thority : 

Having seen the reports of the canonical Com- 
mission appointed by Us for the study of the cures 
of Miss Van Laer of Turnhout (in religion, Sister 
Pudentia of the Congregation of the Franciscan 
Sisters of the Holy Family) and of Mrs. Acar, nee 
Maric-Madelcinc Group, of St. Nicholas (Waes) , 
in which are contained numerous testimonies 
judged worthy of belief, as well as some conclu- 
sions of medical experts having been able freely 
and separately to express their opinions about the 
nature of the said cures; 

Having considered that these attestations where 
the value and the authority of the reasons are in- 
disputable, prove, with the evidence, that Miss Van 
Laer and Mrs. Acar suffered from extremely grave 
diseases and that they had been cured instantly, 
perfectly and absolutely beyond curative power in 



29 



case at issue to account for these sudden unexpected 
changes; 

Whereas it has therefore been demonstrated that 
these cures assume the natjure of supernatural 
matters; 

We acknowledge 

1. That Miss Marie Van Laer who, for six- 
teen years, suffered from a serious disease, deemed 
incurable, of a tubercular nature, or more probably 
staphylococcic, in the region of the cervical vertebra 
and in the right leg, which had progressed to the 
final stage, has been immediately and absolutely 
cured on the twenty-fourth of June, 1933, on the 
day after a pilgrimage made to Beauraing for the 
purpose of obtaining a cure; 

2. That Mrs. Acar-Group suffered from a 
myoma of the matrix, duly diagnosed by the at- 
tending physician, and found herself cured im- 
mediately and absolutely on July 30, 1933, on 
returning home from a pilgrimage made with the 
purpose of obtaining a cure. 

Consequently, using Our power as Ordinary and 
taking into consideration the accounts and verdicts 
already sent Us by the diocesan Commission 
charged with canonical inquiry: 

Having invoked the Holy Name of God; 

We have judged and do judge, We have declared 
and do declare that the cures of Miss Van Laer and 
Mrs. Acar-Group are miraculous and that in view 
of circumstances in which they have taken place, 
they ought to be attributed to a special interven- 
tion of God through the intercession of Our Lady 
of Beauraing. 

And let Our present judgment and Our declara- 
tion be made public for the honor of God, the 
glory of Our Lady, and the edification of the 
faithful. 

Given at Namur, this second of July, 1949, on 
the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady. 

ANDRE-MARIE 

Bishop of Namur 

by the order of: 

F. TOUSSAINT, Prosecretary 



30 



Ill 



LETTER TO THE CLERGY OF THE 

DIOCESE 

Reverend and Dear Confreres: 

The publication of the decree which you have 
just read marks a decisive date in the history of 
the devotion to Our Lady of Beauraing. 

As you know, when we officially permitted this 
devotion, our declaration enforced strict reserva- 
tions: we deemed that the moment had not yet 
come for us to pronounce "upon the reality and 
the supernatural character of the facts." Since 
then, the reasons for hesitation have considerably 
decreased and we are able to say before God that 
the signs are not lacking to satisfy us personally 
of the foolish character of the prudent reserves 
made at the beginning. But we looked forward to 
the hour when we would be able to publish our 
final approval. That hour, we think, has come. 
The happy termination of the reports of the dioce- 
san doctrinal Commission permits us to declare the 
miraculous nature of the two cures obtained 
through the intercession of Our Lady of Beau- 
raing, occurring in the months which followed the 
events at Beauraing, among many other cases of 
spiritual and temporal favors, and at the height of 
a movement of Marian fervor which has subsisted 
to this day, these miraculous cures constitute the 
final element which wins our conviction of the 
supernatural character of the events. 

We give thanks for it to God and to the Most 
Holy Virgin: we are able in all serenity and pru- 
dence to affirm that the Queen of Heaven ap- 
peared to the children of Beauraing during the 
winter of 1932-1933, especially to show us in her 
maternal Heart the anxious appeal for prayer 
and the promise of her powerful mediation for 
the conversion of sinners. 

We, ourselves, marveling at the providential 
guidance which has led us after seven years to 
this final stage of the case, have signed this docu- 
ment with all the ardor of our heart and with the 
assurance that our entire diocese will join in our 



31 



thanksgiving. In the name of all our people we 
again tell Our Lady with a growing confidence: 
Among us you are Queen; we are yours. 

Please believe, venerable and dear confreres, our 
sentiments of spiritual and affectionate devotion, 
in Our Savior and Our Lady. 

Namur, July 2, 1949, on the Feast of the Vis- 
itation of Our Lady. 

ANDRE-MARIE 
Bishop of Namur 




This is a reproduction of the official 
Beauraing statue. The cover picture 
is not Our Lady of Beauraing. 



32 



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